May 232015

I don’t go to my local scrapbook store, Memory Bound, every week (although I think about it!), but I visited the store Friday evening after I received an e-mail that announced some new Tim Holtz products had arrived. If you’ve been reading my posts here, then you know already that I am a Tim Holtz fan. I use his Distress ink stamp pads, some of the Distress ink markers and paints, own all three of his technique books, and have many of his paper cutting dies and other paper crafting tools.

Tim Holtz Distress Products

The items described in the Memory Bound e-mail included the Tim Holtz Distress Refresher, Distress Sprayer, Distress Micro Glaze, and DIY Distress Ink Pad, all of which are described on Tim Holtz’ Web site HERE. I was pretty sure I could use the first three products, but wasn’t sure about the DIY Distress Ink Pad. Here’s what I learned about these accessories, designed to work with the Tim Holtz Distress line of products. If you’re unfamiliar with the inks, their main advantage is that they are water-reactive and that you can create interesting and beautiful blending effects with them.

The Tim Holtz Distress Refresher is an essential accessory if you use Distress ink stamp pads, markers or paints because it prolongs the life of your products. It is made of a mixture of water and gel, designed to moisturize and condition your stamp pads, the brush tips of your markers, and the foam applicator tops of your paint bottles. When your stamp pad begins to get dry, you don’t necessarily need to re-ink it, but can instead spray the pad once or twice with Distress Refresher, then close the lid and wait about five minutes to let the liquid soak in. For the markers, do the same: spray once or twice, cap the marker, and wait five minutes before using. Spray your non-stick craft mat once or twice with the Distress Refresher, turn your Distress Paint bottle upside down, and swish the foam applicator in the liquid a few times, cap it, and once more, wait five minutes.

Tim Holtz Distress Refresher

The Tim Holtz Distress Sprayer is an empty spray bottle, but not an ordinary one. Tim Holtz points out in his video, Distress Sprayer, that every sprayer is different, which is why you don’t always get the same results he does in his tutorials or trade show demonstrations. The Tim Holtz Distress Sprayer is designed specifically to hold water (although you could technically mix up your own colored or glitter sprays), and has a button in the trigger head that blocks water flow if you want to pack the bottle in a bag and not have it leak. When you depress the trigger fully, the sprayer releases a fine, even spray. If you depress the trigger partially, it releases water clumplets, which create a specific blending effect that’s different from when you use a fine spray. The bottle holds four ounces of water, where many other brands of craft spray bottles hold two ounces.

Tim Holtz Distress Sprayer

Tim Holtz Distress Micro Glaze sells in a one-ounce jar and is my favorite new accessory of the four described in this post. Inside is a paste-like product that reminds me of wax. The purpose of this product is to prevent Distress inks from reacting with water once your work of art is finished. Tim Holtz says the product is the result of a collaboration between Ranger Ink and Skycraft, the original maker of the micro glaze.

Tim Holtz Distress MIcro Glaze

You put a little bit on your fingertip, and rub it into any porous surface, let it dry, and then buff off the excess with a clean cloth or paper towel. A little bit goes a long way. You can use Distress Micro Glaze with any of the Tim Holtz Distress products, but also with any watercolor products, markers that react with water, inkjet-printed art, and basically anything that needs to be water-resistant. If you visit the Skycraft About page, it describes even more uses for the petroleum-based, acid-free product with a slight citrus-y scent. You can even use it to make leather stain-resistant, on metals to prevent rust and corrosion, and on wood to protect and polish it. A little while ago I wrote a post about an address book I created that featured a watercolor effect on the cover using Distress inks. I hadn’t listed it in my shop yet because I wanted to come up with a solution that prevented the inks from running if someone accidentally spilled a drop of water or other liquid on it. This was the solution. As you can tell from the photo, the micro glaze is clear and matte when dry, and none of the inks smeared when I applied it.Address BookThe final new Distress accessory from Tim Holtz, described in this post, is the DIY Distress Ink Pad. This product is designed so that you can combine multiple Distress inks to make your own custom ink pad. You fill the eye dropper from a Distress Re-inker with ink, then paint a narrow section of the pad with ink. Repeat this with other colors until the white stamp pad is completely filled with color. Then take a credit card or plastic scraping tool, and pull down the length of the stripes you’ve created to drive the ink down into the pad. Then cover the stamp pad with the provided lid, and let it sit for 10 minutes before using the pad. The lid is covered with a special paper that takes the custom ink, so go ahead and roll a brayer over the stamp pad, and then roll out your custom color on the lid so you’ll know at a glance what your custom color looks like. To be honest, this is probably the accessory for which I have the least use. I tend to ink up spots on a craft mat with my Distress inks, and then paint with the inks–either with a dry paint brush or a wet one, and that allows me to create any custom colors I need. But if you want a larger amount of a custom color that you plan on using often, the DIY Distress Ink Pad is the way to go.

Tim Holtz DIY Distress Ink PadThese new Distress accessories from Tim Holtz are handy and will sell quickly in my local craft store, I suspect. Have you worked with any of these products yet, or plan on using them?

© 2015 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.

May 192015

A few weeks ago I gave away a password book I was originally going to list in the Gifts for Men section in MisterPenQuin, but decided to re-create because I had leftover paper. The original book was embellished with ribbon and buttons, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to do the same cover again—not because I didn’t like it—but because I like to mix things up.

DSCN8955I decided instead that I wanted to use die cuts, so I pulled out my Shoot! by in’spire™ Spellbinders die set, and cut out some arrows in three sizes from Kraft-tex scraps. A roll of this stuff retails at $12.99 for a foot-and-a-half—expensive, in other words—so you really don’t want to throw out your leftover bits. I inked the arrows with Tim Holtz Distress Ink in Walnut Stain to give them an aged look.

Shoot by Spellbinders

Those arrows didn’t really stand out against the colorful print in the cover, so I decided to mount them on a plaque of sorts, made from paper. I used the second-smallest size of my Labels Twenty-Eight die set by Spellbinders Nestabilities, and then determined I wanted a shadow effect in black.

Labels Twenty Eight by Spellbinders

Unfortunately, the next size up in this die set was too large to create a shadow, so I cut the same size shape again in black paper, cutting it in half. My thought was that I could layer the pieces so that a narrow black border would surround the lighter brown shape. Likely the piecing wouldn’t be real visible in the final plaque. I adhered the paper pieces with Scotch Quick-Drying Tacky Glue because I wanted a glue that would dry quickly, but not so quickly that I couldn’t adjust the paper as needed.

Labels Twenty Eight

Labels Twenty-Eight with Shadow Effect

I liked the way the plaque looked when it was finished, but decided I wanted more of a dimensional look for the arrows. Ordinarily you can use adhesive dots or squares for this purpose, but this doesn’t work at all for intricately-cut shapes. The solution is craft foam, which works really well. I ran a combination of craft foam and the Shoot! dies through my Big Shot die cutting machine, then adhered the foam pieces to the Kraft-tex arrows with my Xyron® Create-a-Sticker™ tool. If you don’t have something like this, an alternative is Ranger Multi Matte Medium. However, you may want to consider transferring this adhesive into a Fineline Applicator bottle to achieve a fine line of glue, but this is really an optional step. If you have sticky-back craft foam, this would also work well, but I didn’t have that variety on hand. I suppose you could also use one or two layers of lightweight chipboard instead of the craft foam, but the advantage to using craft foam is that the edges don’t need to be colored. And if they do, you can color the foam with a permanent marker, such as a Sharpie or something similar.

Xyron Create-a-Sticker Adhesive for Arrows

I decided I wanted the plaque to have more of a 3-D effect, too, so I cut out a Labels Twenty-Eight shape from craft foam, and adhered that to the back of the plaque. The white liquid you see in the photo is simply Scotch Quick-Drying Tacky Glue that has not yet dried.

Craft foam backing for plaque

I forgot to mention that when I made the paper and craft foam die cuts, I used the Sizzix Precision Base Plate, a fairly new product that was introduced earlier this year at the annual Craft & Hobby Association trade show. This is a metal plate that takes the place of one of your acrylic cutting plates, and is ideal for cutting intricate shapes with your wafer-thin dies. You lay it on top of your Sizzix Magnetic Platform, place your paper on the Precision Base Plate, and then set your die with the ridges facing down onto the paper. The Base Plate takes a lot of abuse and doesn’t scar when the sharp edges of your dies come into contact with it. Additionally, if you’re using the kind of dies that cut and emboss, you can do both steps at once, instead of having to run the paper through your Big Shot a second time. Note that the Precision Base Plate works only with the Big Shot, Big Kick and Vagabond die cutting machines, all made by the same company. Sizzix listed the Precision Base Plate as out-of-stock at the time this post was written, but keep checking back, or search for “Sizzix Precision Base Plate” on the Internet, as another vendor may have it available. It retails for $19.99.

Sizzix Big Shot and Accessories

The completed password book appears in the photo below, and is ready to be added to the Gifts for Men section in my shop. I really love changing up my book covers!

Tribal Style Password Book

The tools and supplies for this project are available through the Amazon widget below. If you purchase through this widget, I do receive an Amazon Associates commission.

 © 2015 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.

May 162015

John and I spent a lovely afternoon on Walnut and Fourth Streets at The Kirkwood Hotel in downtown Des Moines today, visiting with Iowa artisans at Market Day Iowa, a curated pop-up market.

Market Day Iowa

Market Day is held in the hotel lobby, ball room, and bar on the ground floor. The vibe is young and trendy, with many highly skilled artisans displaying their wares. I met Dani Ausen of daniAWESOME, who organizes the Market Day events that have been showcasing Iowa artists, crafters and vintage sellers since 2009. When she is not coordinating Market Day, Dani is a maker herself who sells hair fascinators, jewelry and masks in her Etsy shop.

Dani Ausen of daniAWESOME

In this post I’d like to introduce you to some of the most interesting artisans I met. I chatted with Liz Brooks of Teal Suede, who marries together colorful fabrics and buttery-soft leather to make handbags. She also paints designs on some of her fabrics.

Erin Brooks of Teal Suede

Jason Headlee of Blue Prairie Kitchenware uses hand gouges and rasps to make beautiful wooden spoons, spatulas, spreaders, coffee scoops, and other kitchen implements from oak, cherry, walnut, osage and other woods. No two items are alike; these are truly keepsake tools. You can reach Jason by email at or call him at 515-975-3282.

Jason Headlee of Blue Prairie Kitchenware

John Bosley of Bozz Illustration designs art prints, posters and other graphic works that feature Des Moines landmarks and Iowa culture. His screen printing studio takes up most of his basement.

John Bosley, Bozz Illustration

Veronica Deitrick of Dog in a Fez makes adorable dog berets, fez caps and other dog wearables. Her model and her inspiration is her Japanese Chin, Fuku Wanwan. Because her Web site is being revamped at the moment, she urges you to contact her via the Dogs of Des Moines site or by email at

Veronica Deitrick of Dog in a Fez

Cody Sherman of ToasterPress is a woodcut printmaker who transfers his drawings to a woodcut, which he then inks up to print T-shirts you’ll find nowhere else. His style is both humorous and whimsical, and the inked woodcuts themselves are works of art.

Cody Sherman, Woodcut Printmaker

Caroline Sallen is a fiber artist who dyes silk scarves in a rainbow of colors. You’ll find her shop on Etsy at Caroline Sallen. I bought a silk scarf from Caroline, and loved the fact that she enclosed a photo showing 12 different ways you can tie a scarf. During the daytime, she is a special education teacher, but in her spare time she not only dyes silk scarves, but she also designs art quilts. You can find examples of her work on her Facebook page, Caroline Sallen Art Quilts.

Caroline Sallen

Sabrina Alery, a stay-at-home mom who owns The Honor Roll, designs what she calls “pretty cloth and paper” planners and stationery. I flipped through the contents of one of her lovely fabric-covered planners, and discovered it holds up to five different and removable organizers, and features useful locations for business cards, notes, paper clips, a pen, and more. Sabrina also crafts lovely cards, no two of which are exactly alike, with matching envelopes. Besides her Web site, you can visit The Honor Roll on Facebook and her shop on Etsy.

Sabrina Alery of The Honor Roll

Jake Haselman of Jake Haselman on Etsy designs screen printed shirts, bags, buttons, zipper pulls, coasters and art prints. His black-and-white geometric art is distinctive, pulling you in for a detailed look at his work. Trust me—I couldn’t resist crouching down to almost stick my nose into one of the prints for a closer examination!

Jake Haselman collage

Kat Hutchison of Kat Meowcrafts works full-time during the daytime, but hand-embroiders buttons, pendants, patches and badges in her spare time. The tiny, detailed illustrations are her own. Kat says that while many of her designs feature cats, she actually owns two dogs. Cats are not in the picture because of her husband’s allergies.

Kat Hutchison of Kat Meowcrafts

Jen of 11th & Mulberry sells adorable cotton baby clothing such as onesies, yoga hats and harem pants. What’s different about her clothing line is that she screen prints a design on each piece with water-based ink. For many of the garments, you can specify what color of ink you prefer.

Jen of 11th & Mulberry

Shawn Solen of Solen Studios designs unique cement planters and bowls, table lights, wall hooks made from assorted woods, metal wall hooks, and a wall-mounted entryway oak shelf that holds your keys and your mail. Although you can visit his Etsy shop to purchase these items, a more complete gallery of his work appears in his Instagram feed HERE.

Shawn Solen of Solen Studios

I fell in love with ceramic artist Erin Carpenter’s beautiful white pottery, carved and painted with her delicate designs. I liked it so much, in fact, that I purchased one of her ring bowls, shown in the lower left photo below. You can browse through Erin’s lacy bowls, stoneware, and painted white pieces at her Web site, Erin Carpenter Pottery, but you can purchase pieces of it in her Etsy shop, also called Erin Carpenter Pottery.

Erin Carpenter of Erin Carpenter Pottery

Just before Market Day closed today, John and I visited with Jen Lawler of JL Designs, a silver- and goldsmith who designs and crafts exquisite jewelry with clean, modern lines. I have been looking for a long time for a necklace to match a sterling silver bracelet I purchased years ago at the Kentucky Artisan Center of Berea, and was excited to discover exactly what I needed. I’m wearing the necklace in the photo below, but you can also see some of Jen’s other pieces.

Jen Lawler of JL Designs

The artisans I have introduced in this post represent about a third of the ones selling at today’s Market Day in Des Moines. The event is small enough that you can take the time to chat with the designers and learn a little bit about their process, in addition to checking out their wares. This is the first time we have visited a Market Day event, and John and I thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

Have you attended a craft venue lately, where you shopped instead of being a vendor? What special finds did you discover?

© 2015 Judy Nolan. All rights reserved.